Main photo credit: Mary and Marilyn Fisher / Shutterstock.com
I love all dogs—big and small, fluffy and sleek. And the thing about dogs—they don’t know how big or small they are. A little dog can be just as packed with personality as a big bruiser. Yet many owners fail to train their small dogs, and give them free rein to do what they please. How many times have you seen a Pomeranian or Chihuahua in a driver’s lap on the highway? Cute, but potentially tragic.
Pets are family. Most parents wouldn’t dream of tossing their three-year-old child into the cargo compartment of their SUV, yet many think nothing of transporting their unrestrained canine companion like a piece of luggage. The American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.org) recommends riding with your dog latched into a well-ventilated crate or carrier, and to secure the crate or carrier in the vehicle so that it won’t shift or slide if you have to stop abruptly.
But what if your dog, like many, rebels against crating? Then, according to the ASPCA, you should “always keep him in the back seat in a harness attached to a seat buckle.” A harness, or a dog car seat, may be the best solution for dog travel—but what kind of dog car seat is best?
To learn more about the best dog car seats, refer to our table of contents.
The Bloblo Dog Car Seat is a great solution that will add comfort and security to your pet’s commute. It is shaped like a small upholstered and cushioned armchair, covered in bite-resistant oxford and polypropylene webbing. It comes with an integrated adjustable buckle to secure your pet to the dog seat, and the dog seat to the car’s front or rear seat. Choose from three different designs: blue, coffee stripe, and red stripe to match either your car’s interior or your personal style.
It’s designed to work with a variety of different cars and features a removable mat that is easy to clean. It measures 21.7 inches by 19.7 inches by 11.8 inches and is ideal for small- to medium-sized pets. There is even side storage pockets if you want to keep some treats or toys for your pets. Best of all, when you’re not using it in your car, your pet will love using it as a bed inside your home.
The PetSafe Happy Ride Deluxe Booster Seat for Dogs is available in three options, depending on the size of your dog: up to 12 lbs, up to 18 lbs, and up to 25 lbs. The cool thing about this seat is that it not only gives your dog a safe, secure place to sit, it also elevates your pup so that it can see out of the window, and so that you can see it easily from the driver’s seat.
The seat is shaped like a rectangular basket and has a polyester oxford shell and soft fleece liner. Your dog can snuggle down inside, or sit comfortably and enjoy the ride. It uses adjustable straps to install on any bucket or bench seat with headrests, leaving the seat bottom clear. When not in use, the seat is easy to remove, and folds flat for storage. When it comes time for cleaning, simply remove the liner and machine wash to keep the seat nice and fresh for your next trip. There is also a zippered pocket so you can store additional gear for your dog while on the road.
If your small dog has a sense of style (and don’t they all?), they will appreciate the jaunty styling of the FANCYDELI Puppy Car Seat. While most of the dog car seats on the market are rendered in a neutral color, this tasteful, lightweight seat for dogs up to 15 lbs has a simple, striking design that you’ll be proud to show off.
The seat is constructed from waterproof oxford cloth with breathable mesh panels on the side for maximum airflow. The floor is lined with soft flannel, so your dog can lay down and snuggle in comfort. Flexible straps hold the seat in place, and an adjustable-length safety belt with a hook keeps your dog from jumping out or falling out of the seat. This option measures approximately 17.1 inches by 15.5 inches by 15 inches. Like other recommendations, this one also features an outside pocket so you can store pet supplies while on the go. And when it’s not in use, it easily folds up for easy storage.
The company provides a two-year warranty in case you ever have any issues with the product.
Let’s admit it—not all dogs are angels. If you have a rough-and-tumble puppy, some light-duty dog car seats might not be strong enough to do the job. The ISFC Pet Dog Booster Seat has a reinforced metal frame that will not collapse under the pressure of a puppy’s prodding, and two PVC pipe supports.
It’s constructed from waterproof Oxford cloth with breathable mesh panels, and measures 15.8 inches by 11.8 inches by 9.88 inches. Adjustable web straps make installation a breeze in any vehicle, and a safety leash keeps the seat in position. A detachable board makes cleaning easier when necessary. The ISFC seat folds flat for easy storage, and has a storage pocket for treats, napkins, and dog toys. Don’t go anywhere without some dog toys.
If you’re an athletic, outdoorsy type, chances are so is your dog. No fleece lining and plush padding for you guys—it’s all high-denier Cordura and rugged mesh. The K&H Pet Products Buckle N’ Go is a dog car seat that will remind you of the tactical gear that you use when hiking, biking, and camping.
This recommendation is available in two sizes, with the small one measuring 21 inches by 12 inches by 19 inches and the large one measuring 21 inches by 19 inches by 19 inches. You can also choose between gray and tan colors to match the rest of your interior. This dog car seat provides a comfortable, secure place for your small to medium dog to hang out while you drive from adventure to adventure. Mesh side windows give your dog a nice view while driving, while also allowing extra airflow on those hot days. The seat connects between the second-row headrest and front-row headrest, and snaps directly into the seat belt buckle. That means you can install it on either the driver or passenger side of the vehicle.
If you’ve got a big dog like I do, it’s tough to find the right dog car seat. I can’t confine my 110-lb Labradoodle into most car seats, but I still want to keep him safe, and I don’t want to travel with a dog crate. Luckily, the Vailge Dog Seat Cover converts the entire second row of my F-150 into a dog car seat, and the bonus is that it protects my truck’s upholstery and door panels at the same time.
Made of 600D oxford cloth with a water-resistant coating and backed by a waterproof bottom layer, the Vailge cover is basically a hammock for my dog, connecting to the second-row headrests, front-row headrests, and overhead grab handles, creating a comfortable, safe place for my dog to sit. I don’t have to worry about him falling off of the seat and into the footwell—and I don’t have to worry about his hair getting into every nook and cranny. It’s available in standard (60 inches by 56 inches) and extra-large (64 inches by 60 inches) sizes.
Like the Vailge cover, the Kurgo Dog Hammock is a great solution for medium and large dogs. Unlike the Vailge, the Kurgo doesn’t take up the whole row. It is a hammock, connecting to the front- and second-row headrests, and protecting your dog from falling into the footwell. But it has a wall that confines your pet to one-half of the second row, which should be sufficient for all but the biggest dogs—and still allows you to accommodate a human passenger (or cargo) on the other side.
Better yet, you could install two Kurgo Dog Hammocks side-by-side and transport a pair of big doggies while still maintaining order in your second row. If I let my two dogs loose together in the second row, eventually I’d have a wrestling match going on, and you’d hear me hollering “Do I have to pull this truck over?” Nobody wants that. This recommendation is available in a variety of finishes and sizes, ranging from 27.5-inches wide to 63-inches wide. Choose from seat coverage, half seat coverage, or seat and floor coverage depending on your needs.
Even though I have big dogs, I won’t judge you for having small ones. They’re all great. If you’ve got a small dog, sometimes you have to confine them to a carrier to take them into businesses or on public transportation. The Pet Gear Carrier & Car Seat is a really smart contraption that combines the function of a carrier and a car seat into one unit.
Big enough for a dog up to 15 lbs, the Pet Gear Carrier attaches to the car’s seat belt without using any additional tools or straps, and has a retractable domed cloth cover with an integrated metal carry bar, and a tether inside that you can clip to your dog’s harness for additional security. Choose from a variety of different finishes, from floral to plain black. With this option, it’s easy to get your dog into and out of the carrier with top entry—no tight doors or flaps to mess with. Mesh walls allow your dog to see out, and get good airflow for comfort. Take your dog everywhere, safely.
I take my dogs’ safety seriously, and I’ll bet you do, too. That said, my budget is not unlimited when it comes to a dog car seat, so I’m glad that I’ve found the OKMEE Dog Car Seat Cover. Like more expensive dog car seat covers, the OKMEE is made of 600D oxford fabric, which is rugged, durable, and water resistant. Underneath the top layer is a layer of 210D oxford fabric, followed by cotton, and a layer of anti-slip rubber cloth.
This recommendation connects to the front and rear headrests, and acts as a hammock to keep my dogs from falling into the footwell when I stop suddenly (probably because I saw another dog and want to get a look). It doesn’t offer the same door panel protection as the Vailge, but it does cost much less and performs much of the same function. You can choose from black or blue finishes with this option, which uses two adjustable buckles and seat locks for quick and convenient installation or removal.
If you’ve got a dog that’s 10 lbs or under, the Heartland Pet Products Soft-Sided Dog Car Seat and Carrier might be the Swiss Army Knife of dog transportation that you’ve been looking for. With five exterior pockets (two of which are mesh), it can carry all of your dogs accessories, snacks, toys, collars, and leashes. It’s made of heavy-duty water-resistant fabric along with vinyl netting and uses rugged zippers.
It has an adjustable, padded shoulder strap for use when you’re carrying your dog, and webbing straps and metal hooks to secure it for use as a car seat. Best of all, the lightweight carrier has a tall (14 inch) mesh roof, so your dog can stand up and see out, which will help them keep calm during travel. Overall, it measures 16.5 inches by 14.5 inches by 14 inches, which is ideal for pups 10 lbs and under.
Main photo credit: Nina Buday / Shutterstock.com
The last thing you want is to have your canine buddy injured in a car accident, or even more horribly, to have your dog become a dangerous projectile that injures you or other human passengers in a crash. Even if your dog is not injured, if you are incapacitated or unconscious when help arrives, first responders need to feel safe. If your dog is loose, it might try to protect you, and keep emergency personnel away. Or it might become disoriented from a crash, and become vulnerable to traffic. A restrained dog is a safer dog.
I’m glad that you agree that a dog car seat is a necessity. But how do you choose the right dog car seat?
First, match the dog car seat to your dog’s size. Too small is no good; too big is a waste of space and resources, and might not give your dog the sense of security that you’re seeking.
Next, choose a style of seat that will work for your dog’s personality. Does your dog like to see the surroundings? Perhaps an elevated booster seat would be good. Does your dog like to curl up and sleep during a ride (that’s what my dogs do)? Maybe they’d appreciate a soft lining. Does your dog shed year-round? A dog car seat that’s easy to wipe clean would probably make your life easier.
Finally, get the best-quality dog car seat that your budget allows. Look for solid structural elements, thick upholstery and padding, and strong straps and buckles.
Be sure to secure the dog seat to your car with the seat belts, and make sure to secure your dog comfortably to the seat. A harness is better than a collar for this, as it will be less likely to injure your dog in a sudden stop.
Now, get out there and go for a ride with your best friend. You’ll both enjoy it with a new dog car seat.
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